Daily Devotional for 04.11.2020



Saturday 11th April

RESURGAM 2020 - Journeying through the 14 Stations of the Cross


Station # 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb


When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in the new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. Matthew 27: 57-60

Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus who was a part of the Sanhedrin, the council of Priests and Elders who governed Israel. Some sources describe him as a Pharisee. Joseph was not just a member of the council however; Mark tells us that he was a “prominent member” Mark 15:43 a man of influence and wealth. This interesting piece of information helps us to understand that not everyone that was a part of the Sanhedrin despised and hated Jesus. Not everyone in that august body had allowed offenses to fester and develop into murderous hatred. Good men, reasonable men opposed the insanity of a rush to judgment.

Yet as so often is the case, the loud, galloping force of offense, had swept wisdom and patience aside and with much violence attained its goal of destruction. There is no compromise in offense, no reason, no kindness. Offense is a steel box filled with a cornucopia of misunderstandings, half-truths, opinions, mixed with a generous sprinkling of selfish ambition, all built upon the unstable foundation of an unrenewed mind that is manipulated by past hurts and failures. The only antidote to offense is repentance, yet the hard-hearted refuse this invitation, preferring to hold on to the safety of the “truth” which they hold. Only time and the gentleness of the Holy Spirit’s work can soften the heart, allowing people to see the disastrous outcome of their “crusade” for what they thought was “right”. Repentance may come, but with repentance comes a revelation of the damage their words and actions have caused in the lives of others. These revelations become like Jacob’s limp, a lasting remembrance of a time when they fought God.

Joseph, as a senior member of the Sanhedrin, had access to Pilate and so petitioned the Roman Governor to allow him to take and bury the body of Jesus. Pilate agreed and so Joseph took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a pure white, linen shroud and placed Him in an unused tomb, cut into the limestone, which may have been intended for Joseph’s future use.


What thoughts were racing through Joseph’s mind on this day as he lovingly wrapped the Body of Jesus?


All of us experience times in our life when things do not make sense. Hopes and dreams seemingly lay shattered like broken pottery at our feet and all we can see is the impossibility of restoration. It is so tempting at times like this to become angry with God and to isolate ourselves in a dark prison of confusion. Our singular question becomes “why God?” All we can see is what is wrong, all we can feel is despondency, “God, where are you in all this?” becomes our cry.

Jesus Himself faced this on the cross and it is so eloquently described in the Prophetic verses of Psalm 22. Matthew writes, ”About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). Mat 27:46 Here, Matthew describes the pinnacle of Christ’s suffering, when the full weight of sin was placed upon Jesus. For the first time in eternity, a dark cloud separated the Son from the Father and the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ response was to cry out …. “Why?” Jesus knew why, that is why He went to the cross, that is why many months before He set His face towards Jerusalem to walk this road of suffering. Yet, at this moment of separation and darkness, the questions remained. “Why have you forsaken me?”

There was no answer to His cry …. There rarely is. Though the question echoed in Jesus’ mind, He determined to move beyond it.


Even as the words left His quivering lips He recognized them as words He had learned as a child, David’s prophetic words in Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from my words of groaning? 2 I cry out by day, O my God, but You do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.


Jesus knew what came next, and with a focus of mind and intensity of Spirit, He found the way out of this dark and dismal prison.

Yet!

Oh, that wonderful word, the word of escape, the word of liberation, the word of deliverance. Yet! Yet! Yes, all of this is true, the separation, the pain, the broken pottery of shattered hopes and dreams ….. Yet there is something more. Dear friend, there is ALWAYS something more in God’s Word. The Holy Spirit wants to shine the light of revelation and show you the way out. “You will know the truth”, Jesus said, “and the truth will set you free”. John 8:31-32


What is it that the truth will set you free from? …. From that which is true. We must learn that God’s Truth is higher than what we discern to be true, truth is the key to the dimension of God, where the impossible becomes possible. All that surrounds us, all that we feel, the prospects before us, may all appear to force us to the logical conclusion that things are a certain way and that disaster beckons. Yet God has another path for us to take, one that leads to a different conclusion.

Jesus continued, His breath constrained by pain, only the form of words was made by His swollen tongue, silent words perhaps …. but a deafening roar in His Spirit:


Yet You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. 5 They cried out to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disappointed.

All this is true, the pain, the loss, the trauma, the separation. “Yet” said Jesus, “You are Holy, you who are enthroned on the praises of Israel”. Can you see the way out now? It’s Praise! Jesus began to Praise His Father on the cross.


When He did, nothing changed …. and yet everything had changed.

The circumstances, the pain, the suffering all remained a reality, yet He had risen above it all, His eyes were now fixed upon God His Father, He continued:


I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; I will praise You in the assembly. 23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All descendants of Jacob, honor Him! All offspring of Israel, revere Him! 24 For He has not despised or detested the torment of the afflicted.

He has not hidden His face from him, but has attended to his cry for help.

As He continued to Praise, light replaced darkness, hope replaced fears, assurance raised its frame and seated itself in the Board Room of His mind. His eyes were now fixed, endurance grasped his frame and He discovered the strength to sprint towards the finishing line. He was confident that the Father was fully in control.

The words of another Psalm flooded His mind:

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. Psalm 16:10-11

Now, in the middle of the storm there was Peace …. And Hope.

Hours later, as Joseph stepped away from the blood-stained linen shroud containing the now lifeless body of Jesus, he began to repeat the same words:


Yet You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. 5 They cried out to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disappointed.


And as they rolled a great stone across the face of the tomb, and it settled into its resting place, Joseph lifted his tear-stained face to Heaven and declared, “Lord, I don’t understand ….. but I trust you”

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